The Buffalo Bills enter the Wild Card playoff round without a blemish on their record since before the Cleveland Browns game in Detroit. One of those wins was a come-from-behind home win over the Miami Dolphins 31-29 in Orchard Park. Those same Dolphins are the Bills’ next opponent on Sunday at 1:00 in the opening round of the playoffs. Buffalo locked up that home-field advantage with their 13-3 record and 4-2 mark inside the AFC East. Here are the top five things I believe Buffalo needs to do to extend its winning streak, move on to the divisional round, and knock the Phins from the playoffs when they take the field Sunday at 1:00.
It feels like the Bills have dealt with an endless list of off-the-field distractions to overcome this season. We had the horrific, racially charged mass shooting, multiple deadly blizzards, and the collapse and rise of Damar Hamlin. Sadly, I only named a few, the heartbreaking group is larger than that. The latest is Bills’ teammate Damar Hamlin, not just recovering, not just returning to Buffalo, but being able to go home. The rollercoaster ride of thinking he may not survive to the possibility he returns to a playoff game as a fan is something Cedar Point designers couldn’t dream up. If the Bills can manage those emotions, they should be able to reach the -13 our friends at BetUS.com currently have Buffalo favored to win by.
Sky’lar is the Limit
If you’ve ever wondered if the QB position really is the most important position in sports, just look at what the bookmakers in Las Vegas did with the Bills/Dolphins line. When we thought Tua would miss the Wild Card playoff game but weren’t positive, the line was around -9 as they were begging people to take Miami. Once we learned Tua was going to miss the game it jumped to -13. That is a long way to go to say that the Dolphins fall off a cliff with Skylar Thompson under center on Sunday. Thompson has started two games, racking up 27 completions on 44 attempts for 241 yards and no touchdowns. He has appeared in seven games, totaling 534 yards, one touchdown, and three picks. So, yes, the Miami offense is limited with Skylar Thompson at QB.
The Bills need to let Josh Allen do what Josh Allen does against Miami and in the playoffs. In the two games versus the Dolphins this season, Allen has passed for 704 yards, six touchdowns, and no picks. He has added another 124 yards on the ground in those two contests. An average Josh Allen playoff game is more than enough to win on Sunday. Entering the Wild Card matchup, he has 14 touchdowns to just one interception in six games. He averages 286 passing yards on 65.4 percent passing. The Wyoming product also totes the rock for 62 yards per game with one rushing TD. Oh, he also has a playoff-receiving tuddy. Again, let Josh be Josh and profit.
Yes, the Bills don’t have Von Miller for Sunday. That doesn’t stop the fact they should try to get after Skyler Thompson early and often. As mentioned above, the rookie QB is still very green in this league, and the Bills used a lot of assets to draft Greg Rousseau, Boogie Basham, AJ Epenesa, and Ed Oliver. Add that to the fact Miami could be down five offensive linemen, and it’s time to let those dogs eat. Looking at Thompson’s seven appearances for Miami through the Pro Football Focus (PFF) lens, the numbers aren’t great. He has an offensive grade of 58.6. To give a little more perspective, Josh Allen has the best mark in football this season at 91.6. A couple of players ahead of Thompson are Carson Wentz and Colt McCoy. I’m not trying to trash Thompson, just saying the Bills’ defense should have a field day.
All Gas, No Brakes
The Bills need to score early and often, then start getting rest in the fourth. Now, the players can’t think this way but compare our bank accounts, and you’ll realize I am not under contract with the team. The Bills have the best point-per-game scoring differential and are top five in third-quarter points. Keep doing those two things, then get cozy under those coats we see on the sidelines.